Prison uprising quelled

Published 10:24 am Thursday, September 14, 2017

WINTON – An incident here last week at Rivers Correctional Institution was apparently controlled by the staff of the private prison located just outside of Winton.

While efforts made by this newspaper to contact the GEO Group, the parent company of Rivers Correctional, failed, details of the incident were gained through Hertford County Sheriff Dexter Hayes.

Hayes said he was notified on Tuesday night of last week that in excess of 100 inmates refused to be locked down following some sort of disturbance reported in a secured outside area of the prison.

“We were informed that an incident occurred among some inmates who were outside and they refused instructions by the prison staff to go to an assigned area,” Hayes said. “Apparently this disturbance carried forward inside as I learned that numerous inmates in one of the prison’s housing units refused to be placed on lockdown.”

Hayes added that the inmates who were in the secured area outside reportedly showed their reluctance to follow commands from the prison staff by staging a “sit in.”

The Sheriff said he was also made aware that some of the inmates managed to break into the office of a prison counselor from where they used the telephone to call the media, their family members, and even Hertford County’s E-911 (dispatch) Center.

“Our dispatch center was flooded with phone calls from inmates who said there were multiple injuries involved with what they termed as a riot at Rivers Correctional,” Hayes said. “I immediately got on the phone with the warden there and discovered that the information being shared by the inmates was false.”

However, Hayes said he “sided with caution” and notified Hertford County Emergency Management and Hertford County EMS.

“I wanted them to be aware of what was taking place at the prison and for them to be on standby just in case they were needed,” Hayes said. “I also sent my deputies to patrol the area near the prison, but they were not to go onto the property because our assistance was not requested by the warden.”

Hayes said he did offer the services of his department to the warden.

“I was advised that they were able to gain complete control of the inmates who had refused to go into lockdown by around 5:30 a.m. the next morning (Wednesday, Sept. 6),” Hayes stated.

The Sheriff said he was informed by the Rivers Correctional warden that no inmates or staff were injured during the incident.

“To date, I have not been presented any cases by the prison staff that would involve my department in making any arrests on criminal charges linked to this incident,” Hayes concluded.

Rivers Correctional Institution, which opened in 2001, houses inmates from the District of Columbia through a contract between the GEO Group and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  It has a capacity of 1,450.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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